There's no doubt that constant dog whining is guaranteed to upset the equilibrium of even the most level headed owner. But since your beloved dog can't talk to tell you what's up, he often resorts to sometimes less pleasing auditory sounds, such as whining, howling, barking, and growling.
The best method of eliminating dog whining is to understand what’s triggering it and to address that root cause.
Why does a Dog Whine?
Dog whining starts early in life. A puppy quickly learns that a whine gets Mommy hurrying to check on him. In adult dogs, animal behaviorists believe that whining signifies one of the following:
- Pain. Dogs in pain will often whine. Surprisingly, it is believed that chronic pain — pain that has been around for some time, like arthritic pain — rarely causes whining.
- Separation Anxiety. This can happen if your pet is particularly attached to a member of the family. When that person is away, your dog’s anxiety spills over into whining.
- Excitement. Some dogs react to excitement by whining. Often, this can manifest itself when guests arrive.
- Attention-seeking. Some dogs fail to grow out of the puppy habit of whining. This is more likely if the owner continues to respond to such whining.
- Boredom. A highly intelligent breed that is not getting enough mental stimulation may whine out of sheer boredom.
- Grovelling. Some under-confident dogs may whine during interaction with strangers; or, when they encounter other dogs. This is a sign of submission and is usually accompanied by other body language — head down, tail between the legs and eyes averted.
Tips to Eliminate Whining
#1. Address the Pain
If your dog’s whining is a recent phenomenon, there is the possibility that he is in pain. Some conditions that are painful show few external signs, but can be medical emergencies — gastric torsion, for example. You need to consult with your veterinarian.
#2. Separation Anxiety Medication
There are medications that can help deal with your dog’s whining, if it is anxiety related. These, almost always, require a prescription so, again, your veterinarian will have to be involved. If you do not want to go the medicine route as a first option then look at these other ways to prevent separation anxiety.
#3. Ignore Him
Adolescent dogs who have not grown out of the “whining equals mommy love” association will need to be ignored. This may be difficult for some owners who are excessively empathetic, but your dog will be the better for it.
#4. Build his Confidence
When your dog’s whining comes along with grovelling in the presence of strangers or other dogs, it is time to consider confidence building. Most training activities — obedience, agility, and the like — tend to do wonders for his confidence.
Animal behaviorists have come to believe that negative reinforcement does not work … ever!; in a case like this, that is doubly so.
#5. Divert his Attention
Dogs who whine out of boredom are clearly in need to additional mental stimulation. He has got to be kept busier than he is. Involve other members of your family or hire somebody to ensure that his walks are longer and more varied. Also consider introducing additional activities.
Moderate exercise really is a panacea. Besides keeping your pet physically fit which, in itself, is good for his mental well being, varied exercise keeps your dog mentally alert and happier with life.
Click training — using a clicker with rewards — has been shown to eliminate whining in some cases. It does require some patience, but it could well turn out to be the answer in your particular situation.
#8. Call in an Expert
Finally, if nothing seems to be working, it is time to call in the big guns! There are experts who are trained to deal with problems like excessive dog whining. Your veterinarian may well be able to get you in contact with one of them.
A Final Word
Constant dog whining can be a hard nut to crack. Your first step must be to ensure that it is not related to a medical problem. Then, a gradual elimination of all the other causes will ultimately bring you relief and get your dog on the path to being a well balanced individual.